knowing me, knowing you

I started blogging some ten weeks ago and today I found it hard to leave my laptop alone. I actually decided I need a little more discipline to make sure blogging doesn’t eat up all my waking hours. And that is one thing I never expected. Allow me to tell you how this happened.

What do you mean, you write?

At one point I decided I’d amuse myself by writing short pieces. As an added bonus, I banked on having no time left for my great, unfinished novel. I never really counted on other people reading me. Well, maybe just a few friends. Two years ago I took a creative writing course and when I heard I was supposed to read my homework aloud in front of everyone, I almost quit. After all, who wants to listen to a blushing sceptic?

Writing ball keyboard CC Public Domain

Writing ball keyboard CC Public Domain

Let’s not get (too) personal

Sex, drugs and politics immediately sprang to mind as subjects to avoid. I’m also quite careful when it comes to personal details. There are some privacy issues involved with being on the internet, but to me it’s more important that blogging is a unique way to get to know people by their ideas (and their comments!) I’ve read some beautiful pieces by people twenty years younger than me. If I had overheard them on a train and tried to comment, they would have just stared at me in disbelief.

Everything’s personal

On the other hand, everything is personal. I’m sure the people who have wasted more than a few minutes on this blog already know what makes me tick.

When I lived in a zen monastery, we did not talk to each other much. Still, I know the nuns as intimately as I know my sister. And I can often guess what they think. I’ve always enjoyed observing other people. Lurking is a wonderful new experience.

Do I know you?

More than anything I am surprised about the people I’ve met. It feels as if I have found a whole new group of friends. Friends without faces, first names and job descriptions. I only know them by what they wish to share with me and everyone else in the world. Still, they seem uncannily real.

New horizons

I’ve travelled a lot and I’ve always carried books. Preferably non-fiction. But that’s not always easy to find in the second-hand book collections I tended to come across on the road: “Same, same, but different? Please?”

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (]

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (

Suddenly, I find myself compiling a reading list. And that’s not all. I can hardly remember when I last had an opportunity to ask questions or discuss a book that appealed to me with someone who is knowledgeable on the subject. That really is priceless.

Let me introduce… you!

A few weeks ago, David Yerle added an extra page and mentioned some people. I was so surprised to find my blog on the list that I actually hit “print screen.” I care about trees but I could only believe this when I held it in my hand. I hold David Yerle (this might not be his real name) in very high esteem as a science writer and a courteous answerer of what must look like a bunch of stupid questions.

David frequently mentioned the philosophical articles written by bloggingisaresponsibility. In fact, bloggingisaresponsibility was referred to often enough to put in a request for a shorter name. He suggested BR. Fine with me. Visit the abundance of original approaches on this site and you’ll be glad I mentioned the abbreviation.

Time to mention Violetwisp. She promises to rant and she delivers on a daily basis. Her comments are succinct in a way that inspires jealousy and may deliver a dose of scathing sarcasm that is truly unique. You know when you’ve been Violetwisped. Pretty pictures of flowers (her own!) notwithstanding. Don’t say I did not warn you.

By Joonas Lyytinen (Own work) [CC-BY-2.0 (

By Joonas Lyytinen (Own work) [CC-BY-2.0 (

Meet geneticfractals. Before you know it, you’ll picture him sitting at an airport somewhere, telling you what he’s been thinking this morning. Soon you’ll find reading this means something to you. His sparse but vivid descriptions are what makes him truly special.

Criticofchristianity is one of the first bloggers I met. Among the many people who choose religion as a subject, she stands out because she is absolutely honest in writing about her personal experience. She patiently answers every comment, however brutish or unfair. Check her out.

Mesmerising for all the wrong reasons and some of the right, [blog since deleted; sorry] easily combines bella figura and veggie butcher, making mincemeat out of the likes of Descartes (C’est fini, Monsieur). Do I hate to touch base with my inner Kaninchen? No other blogger tells me so many things I don’t want to know.

If you haven’t visited the land of Quo, do it now. Short sentences in black and white. The eyes speak volumes. Then, for that one meaningful quote in 2500 years of buddhism, try zenflash. If you can appreciate literary writing styles, don’t miss Chasing Wild Geese.

Finally, there’s one blog I can hardly describe: Irrelevant Discourse with an Immortal Nobody. It encourages you to make a scene, while savouring the company of a monkey, a blogdog, an Australian with a hat who turns up unexpectedly in Brazil, or, if lucky, a friendly heretic. Recently, I noticed moving pictures. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I need to go lie down for a bit… I’ll just read one more book review from Silver Threads.


About Pipteinpteron

Catch a falling feather. Don't keep it.
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39 Responses to knowing me, knowing you

  1. makagutu says:

    If it was not for work, I think I would spend so much time in front of my computer blogging I’d die of starvation.
    You mention very wonderful people, and yes lurking is an interesting word and the posts are very interesting too!

  2. Just when I thought I’d heard it all, you come along and destroy that illusion by calling me a mincemeat producing veggie butcher who makes it a habit to tell people things they don’t want to know. My compliments Doctor Wordsmith! After regaining my composure, I will go back to my life’s work of making la bella figura. I might even find time to mesmerize my inner bunny.

  3. holly says:

    Ah, I know what you mean about time consuming! entering the blogging world, (where you read, like and comment on other posts which really sends you spiraling into Alice’s hole at times… )
    can be daunting! I too began, merely for writing for my own sake to get some thoughts out, and for one or two friends. I had previously been a discussion board junkie. But THAT was rather time consuming. 😀 a little harder to get used to the comment format here..and how you have to hop from place to place to stay connected…but in the end…it has been fun getting my feet wet. And…there are some lovely, and interesting people….
    Very glad to make your acquaintance livelysceptic. your comments are always appreciated.

  4. violetwisp says:

    I think you summed it all up! It’s a very weird, and very time-consuming world, and it’s odd how you feel like you ‘know’ people. I have three-dimensional psychological profiles of everyone rattling round my brain, even though I’m assured that half are trolls, half are satirists and most of the rest are liars. I think that through a combination of posts and comments you do get a real sense of what people are like. I’ll be checking out some of your recommendations – the one with the monkey, blogdog and moving pictures sounds surreal …. 🙂

    • Thank you for you comment, Violetwisp. Isn’t it weird? Feeling like you know other bloggers? That was my main reason for writing this. I already knew people can have lots of ideas about another person based on a picture, but I haven’t experienced my brain piecing together blogs and comments in this particular way before. As for people satirising and lying, maybe it doesn’t matter. There is no way to know, really. Where I live some people are trying to make it impossible to comment anonymously. I think that would be far worse than the current situation.

      • violetwisp says:

        “As for people satirising and lying, maybe it doesn’t matter. There is no way to know, really.” I totally agree. Where do you live and why are people trying to make it impossible to comment anonymously? Sounds sinister!!

        • It’s mainly a political discussion. Today, people tend to read an article in the newspaper and seem to look at the “comments”-section as an invitation to give their personal opinion in the crudest terms. Other people object to this and think they could change the tone of these discussions if we all had a name and a face. I’m not convinced this will help matters. Many people are full of anger and distrust, I think. And politicians are doing a bad job comforting them. 😉

  5. David Yerle says:

    Well, thanks for mentioning me! I definitely get what you mean about feeling you know these people. Heck, I don’t know the people I work with half as well. Here you can talk about things that actually matter to you, whereas in your everyday life you’re lucky if you can get out of the pre-defined conversations and the many taboos of political correctness. I have also found this to be extremely time-consuming (the socializing part more than the writing) but at least I’m socializing with people I like.

    • I agree with all of your comment: pre-defined conversations and political correctness tend to make me very tired and weary. Talking about things that matter to me may be time-consuming, but at least it’s fun! Thanks for mentioning that. 🙂

  6. I really appreciate the various suggestions. Even before you wrote this, however, I found myself leaning toward reading people who commented on your posts because I knew people intelligent enough to leave such incisive comments on an intelligent blog must be worth reading. Might explain why I haven’t blogged recently myself. You all overwhelm me. In a very good way

    • It’s nice to hear from you again! I don’t think there’s any reason to be overwhelmed, although I experience that feeling on a regular basis. 😉
      It’s always better to feel challenged than to feel bored, I think. Since I’ve started blogging I definitely feel challenged more often. I also check out bloggers from seeing their comments on other blogs. If any of my suggestions were helpful, that would be great!

  7. Yesterday was the first day I took off in 2 months 🙂

  8. As always, a huge thank you for the plug and the kind words!

    I’m experiencing something similar as well. In reading the blogs, I’m finding information to rival (or trump) things I find in books with the advantage that I can correspond with the author of said ideas. People write blogs that stimulate my thoughts, and even comment on my blogs that really get me to thinking. It’s a really enriching process.

    (Speaking of which, I’m working on Dependent Origination as promised, I haven’t forgotten!)

    Also, speaking of your novel, how far along are you? Have you tried NaNoWriMo to at least get the content out?

    • I’ll be really interested to read your take on Dependent Origination. Great!
      On the novel: what’s “NaNoWriMo”? Should I google that? I’m almost ashamed to mention these ambitions, because I always think: “Yeah, great. You and everyone else in the world.” But on the other hand I haven’t given up on it completely. Parts of the text are written, what lies ahead is to piece them together and to take a long, hard look at it from a quality-of-writing perspective. If I look at a text for a long time, I take out more and more words and what remains gets convoluted. Have you written any stuff longer than a typical article?

      • NaNoWriMo is National November Novel Writing Month. During the month of November, people try to write a 50,000 word novel. They log on to the site (, upload their word counts and try to get it done by the end of the month. Some areas have write-ins to motivate people. It’s a great system for helping people get it done. It doesn’t matter if the novel sucks (editing can be done later and NaNoWriMo has editing phases for those who are interested in going further). The point is to have the foundation in place or at least say that you wrote a novel and scratch it off your bucket list.

        I have written some things longer than an article; two that come to mind are novels for NaNoWriMo. Both of them were attempts at philosophical novels — the latter much more philosophical than the former. Both sucked and both are (thankfully) lost to the world :).

        • Thank you, that is a great idea! I feel you really have to start from the idea that it doesn’t matter if it sucks. If you look at other people’s great novels you’d never even start writing.
          Would you do it again? (Of course I’d like to know what you’d describe as a philosophical novel. That goes without saying.)

          • I’m not sure if I’d do NaNoWriMo again. It is a fun process, but having done it twice, I might have gotten it out of my system. It’s still a great thing to do, and it really taught me to appreciate novel structures. When I read a novel after doing NaNoWriMo, it was a different experience!

            Well, a Philosophical Novel (to me) is a Novel whose purpose is to present a philosophy. My second novel was designed to do just that. It was about a character who suffered a horrible setback (in a later revision, this horrible setback was that he got everything he wanted) and found his life without purpose as a result. He went through desperate lengths to find a reason to go on and ultimately found enlightenment thanks to a botched suicide. The suicide was botched because he was a stingy schmuck 🙂


            • Why, did it involve helium by any chance? I happen to know from purchasing it for other purposes that it’s quite expensive. 🙂

              From the outline, I’d say I would read it. Actually, this is one of the things I struggle with. I think a novel should be a good story and I don’t mind learning something (this could be almost anything, really) while reading it. Brad Warren, the punk rocker turned zen master, said he thought he was greatly helped by getting everything he wanted at a young age. This taught him it did not make his life much different. Which caused him to start looking elsewhere for answers. I’ve binned almost anything I’ve written, but it seems like such a waste to do it with a finished product, however bad you might think it is. 🙂 What made you feel there was something wrong with it?

              • Nope, it involved sleeping pills. The man was pathologically stingy 🙂

                Thanks for the vote of confidence!

                My problem with my novel was that it wasn’t well written. Presenting ideas is one thing, putting them into an entertaining story that doesn’t sound rote, contrived and preachy is quite another.

                I may still resurrect it. The outline is all in my head, and it wouldn’t take much effort to bring it back to life. But it needs to be a page turner, like all good stories. If I read it and don’t feel a sense of “movement”, then it will be a failure IMO.

                • I can see why writing a philosophical novel might be a problem on that front. There could easily be a conflict between the story and the philosophy. And I agree on the need for it to be a page turner. A good story is one that keeps me awake because I need to know what happens next. On the other hand, I find it difficult to judge my own work. I know things that another reader would not know, and I feel attached to it.

                  I binned most of it because I travelled a lot. It made no sense to carry it with me. Now, with a memory stick, that might become a lot easier. But in the past I always thought that this was all very personal. Not something I’d leave lying around somewhere.

                  It’s interesting what you say about it all being in your head. I see what you mean. And it’s good news!

              • Why have you binned almost everything you’ve written? I want to know more about your writing!

      • David Yerle says:

        If I may chime in, NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month”. The idea is to give yourself a month to finish a novel. You get to share your progress, show samples, comment on other people’s, encourage each other… I read about it when I started blogging and decided it would be a great idea, but didn’t dare.
        I always wanted to write a novel and I’ve actually written a few which never got published (since they were crap). I do however have a published book, a scientific biography of Ludwig Boltzmann. Though not as David Yerle. Poor David doesn’t get to publish squat.

        • Thank you for your explanation. I really like the idea!
          I think you should really continue writing. You have such clarity of style and you know how to bring a difficult concept back to its essentials…I’ve read a few scientific biographies. They’re often great to get a sense of a scientist’s achievements and the surrounding milieu. Are you happy with the book now that it’s published?

        • Just an afterthought…is your book on Boltzmann in Spanish?

      • David Yerle says:

        Yes, my book on Boltzmann is in Spanish. My English is good enough to convey certain ideas in a simple way (hence the blog) and it’s probably better than Spanish for that, since not many people in Spain are interested in thinking. But when I write a novel I do it in Spanish. I don’t think my English is good enough.

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